Malus assiria

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Malus assiria Pli. quam alii vocant medicam folium est miconis intercurrentibus spinis pomum ipsum alias non mandetur odore precellit foliorum quoque qui transit in vestes una conditus arcet animalium noxia arbor ipsa omnibus horis pomifera aliis cadentibus, aliis maturescentibus, aliis subnascentibus et cetera.


Apparatus:

assiria AC f | asiria B | asyria e | Assyria Pliny

quã AC e | quam B | quẽ f

medicam (-cã AB e) ABC e | medicamen f

est A | ē C | est ei ms. e | ē ei B | est eius f

miconis AC e | micoĩs B | michonis f | unedonis Pliny

intercurrentibus (-bus C) AC | ĩtercurrẽtibus B | intercurentibus e | interpentibus f

alias non (nõ C) AC f | aliquis nõ B | alias mandit~ e

mãdetur (-et~ A) AC | mãdit~ B f

precellit (pre- e) A e | precelit BC f

quoqʒ ABC f | qʒ qui e

aĩalium (-uʒ e) AC e | al’ium f | aliũde B

pomifera (ē add. B f, est add. e)

et cetera om. ef


Translation:

The Assyrian or as some people say Median apple has the leaf of {arbutus} unedo {"strawberry tree; Simon has miconis = "poppy"} with spines all over it. The fruit itself is actually not eaten, and it has a strong smell, and so do the leaves, and this smell goes into the clothes once impregnated and it keeps noxious animals {= moths, etc} away. The tree itself bears fruit during all seasons, while some have already been shed, others are beginning to ripen, and yet others are just beginning to come out, etc.


Commentary and botanical identification:

This is a near-verbatim quote from Pliny, 12, 15, ed. Rackham (1938-63: IV.12).

The citron, the fruit of Citrus medica L. [[1]], is grouped by Greek and Latin speakers under μῆλον /mêlon/ and malum respectively, meaning "an apple" and "any tree-fruit fleshy on the outside and having a kernel within (opp. nux); hence, applied also to quinces, pomegranates, peaches, oranges, lemons, etc." acc. to Lewis & Short.

It has its origin in south east Asia and India and was the first citrus fruit to be grown in the Mediterranean Basin in classical times. By ca. 300 BC Theophrastos in his Historia Plantarum gave a detailed description of τὸ μῆλον τὸ Μηδικόν ἢ τὸ Περσικόν /tò mêlon tò Mēdikón ḕ Persikón/ "the Median or Persian tree-fruit", Theophrastus, 4, 4, 2, ed. Hort (1916: I.310, 312).

Pliny's description is partly reproduced by Simon, see above.

The citron, no longer very popular, is different from other modern citrus fruits like lemons and oranges in that its pulp and segments are not eaten, but it is its thick white rind that has been used medicinally and for flavouring.

Wilf Gunther 19/12/13


See also: Atrogi, Torongi, Turungen


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